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20 Tips for Building a Residential and Community Playground

Creating playgrounds for residential communities provides neighborhood children with a fun and safe place to play. Whether at a park, school, or church, a playground can help children develop useful life and social skills that will benefit them for years. Free play on playgrounds also helps children develop balance, physical strength, coordination, and creative thinking.

For all these reasons and more, you may be considering building a playground in your community. Before you dive in, though, you should know that constructing playgrounds for residential communities isn't always as simple as it seems. There are several important factors to consider if you want to create the perfect play space for the kids in your neighborhood. This isn't to say that building a playground isn't a rewarding experience, though. With just a little know-how, you can install commercial playground equipment that has a tremendously beneficial impact on your community.


Tips for Getting Started on New Playgrounds for Residential Communities

1. Create a Budget

The first thing you should do is figure out how much money you have to buy playground equipment for neighborhoods. Doing so will allow you to make more informed decisions about what you need and what you can purchase in the future. It's always better to get one or two pieces of commercial playground equipment that you can expand on later with free-standing structures than to go over budget.

A general rule to follow when determining your budget is to allocate roughly $1,000 for each child you expect. For example, if you anticipate 20 kids will visit your playground at a time, you'll likely want a budget of approximately $20,000. Don't forget to account for added expenses like playground surfacing, shipping, or installation.


2. Have a Clear Vision for Your Final Playground

Picturing your final playground product will be helpful when making difficult decisions throughout construction. Whether there's a specific theme you want to create or a level of eco-friendliness you want to achieve, knowing these things ahead of time can help guide you through the process. This approach can also make it easier for playground equipment companies to give you the best advice for building your ideal play space.


3. Plan Out a Timeline

Creating playgrounds for residential communities can be a long process. You have to find a location, pick out playground equipment, study the surrounding area, draw up designs, and more. On average, you can expect it to take approximately six to nine months to finish the project. Make sure you allow yourself plenty of time to get it all done.


4. Find a Location

There are a few things to keep in mind when determining where to install playground equipment for communities. First, you shouldn't build your playground on dense soil, like clay. Doing so brings a significant chance of drainage issues. You also should ensure that your area has at least 6 feet of space around your playground equipment for added safety surfacing. Both man-made and natural features of the area, such as traffic or wind, should also be taken into account.


5. File the Necessary Paperwork

As convenient as it would be, you can't just install playground equipment wherever you want. You need to get approval from the owners of the land, look over zoning and building codes to make sure that everything is up to standards, and work with the local government to learn about any policies that may impact your playground plans.


6. Get Help From Experts

If you're planning on installing playgrounds for residential communities, you should contact a playground equipment company sooner rather than later. The company can assist you in determining what your playground does and doesn't need, which can help you finalize a budget early on in the process. Having established figures will come in handy if you need to do any fundraising for your playground project.


7. Establish Specific Goals

Choosing the perfect playground equipment for neighborhoods is easiest when you know exactly what you want to offer the community. Do you want your playground to appeal to both kids and adults with a 15-foot slide? Maybe you want to make sure your playground features a tetherball game. Whatever the case, establishing specific goals for your playground early on will make it much easier to end up with a final product you love.


8. Get Creative With Your Fundraising

Installing new playgrounds for residential communities isn't a cheap project. Many communities hold fundraising events to generate the necessary revenue. Coming up with a creative campaign can go a long way toward reaching your budget goal. For example, a school located in Oskaloosa, Iowa, took $10 donations with each one representing 1 square foot of playground space. It was called the "Fun by the Square Foot Campaign." The group responsible for the fundraiser also partnered with local artists to sell limited-edition prints. Should fundraising not be enough, though, you can also contact a nonprofit organization like Kaboom for grants.


9. Take Inspiration From Other Playgrounds

Make sure to visit a few different playgrounds before creating your own. Researching the playground equipment for neighborhoods like yours and learning about which pieces the kids seem to enjoy most can help you make the best playground possible. You can also take note of what's not provided at other playgrounds so you can add a unique element to yours.


Tips for Designing Playgrounds for Residential Communities

10. Sketch Your Plans for the Property

You don't have to be a professional engineer to draw up a few drafts for your playground. Even just some simple sketches of the area can help you create workable plans for where you want to place your playground equipment.


11. Take Into Account Who the Playground Is For

Make sure to take the age of the children in the area into consideration when choosing playground equipment for neighborhoods. Commercial playground equipment is generally separated into three age groups: 6-23 months, 2-5 years, and 5-12 years. Pick age-appropriate equipment, whether you are designing playgrounds for preschoolers, grade-schoolers, or a mix of both.


12. Incorporate Input From Kids

Adults don't always know what kids find the most fun. That's why you should get kids involved with your playground project whenever you can. You can hold group sessions and ask students to provide you with feedback on playground equipment for communities that they enjoy. You could also hold a contest in which kids submit playground designs of their own. All of this information can help you make the most appealing playground for them.


13. Make Your Playground Accessible

When installing playground equipment for communities, you should always make sure that all children have equal access to fun. The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) lays out several requirements a playground must follow to be considered ADA-compliant. Your playground needs to be easy to reach, include wheelchair-accessible playground structures, and feature ramps and transfer stations.


14. Include a Variety of Play Options

Some children have the most fun on large, complex playground structures, while others prefer to play in the sandbox. You should strive to include as many different playground equipment options as possible for the children in your community to choose from. Make sure to also include plenty of open space for activities like gymnastics, ball games, and running. A quiet space where kids can talk or read is also a good idea to include in your planning.


Tips for Finding Help

15. Work With the Community

If you're putting up playgrounds for residential communities, chances are good that members of these communities will want to help. Try asking parents or organizations within the community to lend a helping hand. They may be able to help in several ways, like fundraising or building a website.


16. Recruit Volunteer Builders

Installing playground equipment for communities often requires a lot of physical labor. Try asking for volunteers from the community to help you erect some of the more complicated or heavy structures. But keep in mind that you should also be sure to have someone present who's an expert or has installed this type of equipment before.


Tips for Safety

17. Use Safe Surfaces

Safe surfaces provide a layer of safety in the event of falls and should be used on every playground. There are several options for safe surfaces to choose from, including wood chips, rubber mulch, and synthetic turf.


18. Install a Fence Around Your Playground

Proper fencing can help keep children from wandering off, keep kids away from hazards like pits and ponds, and prevent them from walking into the street. Check with the American Society for Testing and Materials to ensure that your playground follows the proper safety standards for commercial and residential playground fencing.


19. Choose Certified Playground Equipment

When selecting playground equipment for communities, it's always best to go with IPEMA-certified equipment. This means that the International Play Equipment Manufacturers Association has verified that it complies with the appropriate safety standards.


20. Stay Up to Date on Playground Maintenance

Playground equipment for communities should be checked regularly to ensure that it's safe and functional. Creating and following a maintenance routine can help make sure that you don't fall behind. Things to add to your routine checklist may include raking loose-fill surfaces, removing debris, inspecting equipment for faulty or loose components, and keeping the area clear of rocks. If anything does happen to a piece of your playground equipment, be sure to check its warranty.